Anxiety / Coping Strategies

Anxiety’s Worst Enemy: Life

My anxiety is pretty easily provoked recently, and it’s mostly a situational issue. Life is legitimately stressful sometimes and when you are prone to excessive anxiousness, this can really test a person’s ability to cope.

I’ve gotten to the point where at some point, every day, something or other feels totally out of control and my mind starts to spin, stomach elevate into my diaphragm, breathing become shallow. Here’s a short list of the worst offenders:

  • Every time a city vehicle pulls up near my house (which happens fairly often, for a variety of reasons, because I live in a densely populated neighborhood) I freak out internally. I always think it’s because they’re shutting off my water – because I always have to cut that bill really close, and what if I missed a notice (welcome to the corner of Anxiety and ADHD).
  • Alternately, it could potentially be Parking Enforcement. I always have a few tickets on my tab, and if you are pushing those deadlines (parking tickets aren’t a high payment priority for a household that’s working hard just to pay the mortgage and make sure the lights stay on) it could result in an impounded vehicle that I would never be able to afford to recover.
  • Let’s review this – yes, this means that every single time I hear an automobile engine slow down on the street near my house, I’m startled and have to run to the window.
  • Then there’s the certified mail. We have been doing a payment dance with both the IRS and the mortgage company and again, I’m always afraid that if they send me a certified letter, that it will be because we missed a deadline and we’re screwed, and our home will be foreclosed on or something, and the world will end. Not necessarily in that order. We’ve had a couple recently, nothing bad, but basically until I get the letter in hand, and opened, it’s grinding against my sanity. That’s tonight’s torture, that little tan slip of paper, taunting me with the mysteries it holds. I even tried tracking it online and no sender was divulged. This also adds one more “to-do” to my list for tomorrow at a time when I really need that list to get smaller.
  • I have had too many individual tasks on my plate in the past couple of years. I’m clearing a few of them off. But in the meantime, I get a little stressed about what might be in my email inbox. Last week, I had a huge, horrible full-blown panic attack after sitting down to respond to an email. It wasn’t even a bad email. It was just more than I could emotionally navigate right then (which isn’t saying much).
  • Just these items leave me just raw enough that I have more “concern” about a lot of other things than I need to.

Which all brings me to this thought: At some point, you just have to manually overdrive and take action, despite the anxiety. I have actually been very good at this in the past…but at times when the stakes were lower. I feel like all of the stakes are extremely high right now, all infringing upon survival needs, all impacting the lives of the members of my household in a literal way, should anything “go wrong”.

It’s a lot to take. Yes, it could be worse…but it’s a lot to take. I want my family housed, fed, clothed, my pets cared for. I want to know that I can pay my  bills, to know that my income isn’t going to experience a great fluctuation (unfortunately there have been a lot of ups and downs in the last few years, and there might be more to come). I don’t want to deal with dramatic people anymore, while I’m securing my family’s stability. There have been lots of improvements, all around, but this journey is wearing on me, and I’m tired and…I really do have good coping skills, but they’re very tested, at the moment.

It’s easy to forget that, when things feel bad – that I do have some good coping skills. I guess that having pretty good coping skills doesn’t always guarantee that I’m going to feel fantastic, however.

I think right now, what I have to do, is break my days down into concrete, achievable chunks. And guess what…I started writing in my planner, so I’m on my way. I had to do that with my afternoon, just make a literal pile of “things to do” and turn on some good music, and make myself just pick up each “next” item on the pile after I completed one.

I guess right now it’s “fake it to make it” time. Allowing myself to immobilize isn’t going to make anything in my life better, but maybe by packaging my days into concretely achievable units, maybe I can see what comes next.

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